Monday, March 14, 2016

Dehydration & Exercising with Certain Medical Conditions

What don’t we need water for?

Water is essential in everyday life. The human body needs water for anything from digestion to hormone regulation to circulation. The body will function properly as long as there is an adequate fluid intake. The water we need can come from both foods and beverages. “In the United States it is estimated that about 22% of water comes from our food intake while it would be much higher in European countries, particularly a country like Greece with its higher intake of fruits and vegetables, or South Korea1.” When the human body needs more water than what is taken in, dehydration occurs. Dehydration can have some severe signs and symptoms and can also exacerbate some medical conditions. Also, certain medical conditions require medication use that can change how much water the body needs.

Hypertension and Diuretics

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is sometimes treated with a diuretic or “water pill.” Diuretics encourage the body to get rid of “unneeded” water and salts through the urine. By getting rid of this excess water the heart can pump more easily and as a result lowers blood pressure. Diuretics can also be used to treat heart failure, liver problems, and kidney problems. A common side effect of water pills is increased urination to expel the extra water from the body. Dehydration can occur in individuals on this type of medication during exercise due to the increase in perspiration coupled with the diuretic medication. It is important to remember that diuretics help to get rid of unneeded water and it is still very important to drink water throughout the day and when you exercise.


On the other hand, drinking water can actually help hypotension (low blood pressure). Orthostatic hypotension- low blood pressure caused when changing from a lying position to a sitting or standing position, often too quickly- can be mediated by drinking small sips of water over a 15- 20 minute period1.


Drinking water can help get rid of headaches. “Ingestion of water provided relief from headache in most individuals within 30 minutes to 3 hours3.” Headaches can be caused for a number of reasons. Dehydration headaches can be caused by a lack of water or an electrolyte imbalance, so hydrating and replacing the electrolytes that were lost is best.

Adequate Intake (AI) for Water

The World Health Organization (WHO) has done multiple research studies to find out how much water to drink each day. Every person is different and the amount of water an individual's needs just to survive varies depending on age, gender, height, weight, climate, and activity levels. The WHO came up with an adequate intake guideline. Please keep in mind that 1 liter is equal to almost 34 fluid ounces.

AI for boys and girls birth to eight years of age2
0- 6 months
0.7 L/day of water, assumed to be from milk
7- 12 months
0.8 L/day of water, assumed to be from milk and other beverages
1- 3 years
1.3 L/day
4- 8 years
1.7 L/day

AI for ages nine and older2
9- 13 years
Boys: 2.4 L/day
Girls: 2.1 L/day
14- 18 years
Boys: 3.3 L/day
Girls: 2.3 L/day
19- 70+ years
Men: 3.7 L/day
Women: 2.7 L/day

If you have questions about water intake, dehydration, or its effects on certain medical conditions, please speak with your doctor directly. They will be able to help determine exactly how much water you need!

1.  Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2011, August 1). Water, Hydration   and Health. Retrieved February 13, 2016, from
2.  Grandjean, A., & World Health Organization. (2004, August). Water   Requirements, impinging Factors, and Recommended Intakes. Retrieved   February 13, 2016
3.  Simpson, M. R., Howard, T., & American College of Sports Medicine. (2011).   Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness. Retrieved February   13, 2016, from  effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf

Blog post by Nikki Courtney.

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